Theodore C. Pierson, Ph.D.
Director, Vaccine Research Center (VRC)
Chief, Arbovirus Immunity Section
Dr. Ted Pierson is the Director of the VRC. As Director, he leads the VRC’s comprehensive basic, translational, and clinical research programs focused on designing, developing, and testing candidate vaccines and biologics against HIV/AIDS, coronaviruses, influenza, and emerging infectious diseases with pandemic potential. Dr. Pierson also serves as Chief of the VRC’s Arbovirus Immunity Section. His research explores fundamental and translational questions related to arbovirus assembly and entry, humoral immunity, and vaccine design and evaluation.
Before being appointed VRC Director in 2023, he served as Chief of the Laboratory of Viral Diseases and the Viral Pathogenesis Section in the NIAID’s Division of Intramural Research. Dr. Pierson has co-authored more than 130 publications. He contributed significantly to developing NIAID’s scientific preparedness and response plans, including serving on the Pandemic Preparedness Working Group. He serves on the editorial boards of several journals and served as an editor for the Journal of Virology and PLoS Pathogens. Dr. Pierson is an American Academy of Microbiology Fellow and recipient of the NIH Director’s Ruth L. Kirschstein Mentoring Award.
Richard Koup, M.D.
Chief, Immunology Laboratory
VRC, NIAID, NIH
Dr. Richard Koup is Deputy Director of the VRC and the Chief of the Immunology Laboratory. Dr. Koup has spent most of his career studying the protective role of HIV-specific cellular immunity. His specific research involves the characterization of T and B cell factors that are involved in protective immunity against HIV and other virus infections, to inform the development of vaccines against lethal virus pathogens. He has published over 300 invited and/or peer-reviewed manuscripts on this and related topics. He serves as an Editor for PLoS Pathogens and on the editorial boards of several other scientific journals.
Acting Deputy Director
Karin Bok, M.S., Ph.D.
Director of Pandemic Preparedness and Emergency Response
VRC, NIAID, NIH
Dr. Karin Bok is the VRC’s Acting Deputy Director and Director of Pandemic Preparedness and Emergency Response. In addition to contributing to the leadership of the scientific and clinical research activities of the VRC, she provides scientific expertise for the development of several preparedness and response medical countermeasures, including preventive and therapeutic products against Ebola, Zika, Nipah, influenza, and coronavirus. Dr. Bok collaborates with government colleagues and external stakeholders to prepare and accelerate the response to an infectious disease emergency and advance the study of preventive measures that target unmet medical needs. She currently holds a leading role in H-CORE (HHS Coordination Operations and Response Element, former Operation Warp Speed) contributing to accelerating the development and testing of vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 in the U.S. She is also part of a senior team working on the advanced development of broadly neutralizing monoclonal antibodies for HIV, as well as universal influenza and RSV vaccines. In addition, Dr. Bok has more than 20 years of experience working on research and discovery programs, leading her own scientific studies focused on vaccines, antibody products, antivirals, diagnostics, and viral evolution of gastrointestinal viruses.
Acting Chief Medical Officer and Acting Associate Director
Robert Seder, M.D.
Chief, Cellular Immunology Section
VRC, NIAID, NIH
Dr. Robert Seder is VRC’s Acting Chief Medical Officer, Acting Associate Director, and Chief of the Cellular Immunology Section. As Acting CMO and Acting Associate Director, Dr. Seder advises the VRC Director on clinical research, manages VRC’s clinical research, clinical use of products, and regulatory compliance, and contributes leadership to the research activities of the VRC. As Section Chief, Dr. Seder’s research has focused on the cellular and molecular mechanisms by which vaccines mediate protective immunity in animal models of HIV, malaria, tuberculosis and cancer. Recently, Dr. Seder has focused his efforts on discovery of monoclonal antibodies to prevent malaria infection. Dr. Seder has successfully translated his scientific discoveries with “first in human” clinical trials using intravenous vaccination to generate protective immunity with an attenuated malaria vaccine and more recently showing that a monoclonal antibody can prevent malaria infection following controlled challenge. Dr. Seder led a series of studies in a non-human primate vaccine model of SARS-CoV-2 infection using the mRNA vaccine co-developed by the VRC and Moderna. This work provided the proof of principle for immunogenicity and protection to facilitate the initiation of the Phase 3 clinical trial with the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. Additional studies have focused on immune correlates and mechanisms of protection and his work provided the scientific rationale for boosting with mRNA to protect against variants of concern.
Associate Director for Management and Operations
Jennifer Anderson, Ph.D.
VRC, NIAID, NIH
Dr. Jennifer Anderson is the VRC’s Associate Director for Management and Operations (ADMO). She guides VRC operational activities, develops scientific and operational infrastructure, negotiates policy issues, and executes management and operational activities, including oversight of VRC’s budget, facilities, and administrative staff. Dr. Anderson conducted research in NIAID’s Laboratory of Malaria and Vector Research until 2016, when she joined the Laboratory of Immunoregulation as the Scientific Operations Manager to manage all Laboratory operations for Dr. Fauci. In 2019, Dr. Anderson joined the NIAID Intramural Administrative Management Branch as Deputy Branch Chief, where she advised on developments in management and their implications to the DIR. Dr. Anderson has over a decade of direct experience managing large scientific programs and contributes her wealth of institutional knowledge and organizational understanding to the ADMO position, where she has served since May 2021.